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Spanish 101A

Spanish 101B

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The Past Perfect (often called the Pluperfect) works just like Present Perfect in that it uses a form of Haber "to Have (done something) and a Past Participle.

The difference is that now we conjugate Haber in the Imperfect past tense.

The Present Perfect sentence Yo he leído el libro , now becomes the Past Perfect Yo había leído el libro .

The time difference between the Present Perfect and the Past Perfect tense is when they occur on a time line.

For example, using the Present Perfect I can say "I have eaten." You know that the eating on my part is over. I have finished. But it has happened recently.

If I ate my dinner three days ago, I would be unlikely to say "I have eaten." I am more likely to use the Preterite form of "To Eat" to say "I ate dinner three days ago."

However, if I want to say that I had eaten my dinner already when the pizza arrived, I will use the Past Perfect (which I did.)

When we construct a sentence in the Past Perfect, it generally establishes an event before a more recent event. If I said, "I had eaten," you can feel that I need to complete the sentence: "I had eaten when...(or before... or by then.)"

For example:

  • I had eaten all the roasted garlic by the time Keanu arrived.
  • I had groomed my horse thoroughly before I went riding.
  • I had finished my shower when the doorbell rang.

Imagine the line below as a timeline:


+ Preterite +past perfect +present perfect +present +future

+++++ I + M + P + E + R + F + E + C + T ++++++++++

The Imperfect is an indefinite period in the Past, the Preterite handles completed time-specific events, and the Present Perfect is for recently completed events. The Past Perfect is for events that have occured prior to other past events.